In Praise of Profession

Most of us begin our adult lives with some vague optimism about the future. Even if things aren’t ideal in the beginning, we reason, surely the harder we work the better life will be. Growing up we all harbor some deep-seated hope that our jobs, whatever they may be, will in some way influence the world for good. We are told to dream–dream big, dream often, don’t stop–and we begin to believe in ourselves.

The truth is that most of us, upon being launched into adulthood, become satisfied with jobs that pay the bills. World changing? Perhaps not. Life-altering? Yeah, potentially. We trudge through each day, each week, paying the bills and wondering what all that dreaming was for. But a lucky few are able to carve out more than that for themselves. For some of us, reality and occupation are not combatants. Rather they coexist, and we are able to have one without falling prey to the other.

Arguably, no one ever goes into teaching for the money. Education is seldom, if ever, championed as a lucrative career choice. But I would argue that those of us who have chosen this profession have duped the rest of the world. Ours is a secret so delicious it must be told. 

Every day I go into a classroom where I sit with my books. Some of these books have been with me for awhile, since I was a student myself. They are worn; they are tattered and coffee-stained. They are old friends, keepers of solace. I go into a classroom with my books, and there are students there waiting for me, waiting for me to tell them what’s in the books. But instead of dryly delivering information for them to file away and regurgitate later, we have conversations. We talk about theme and plot and symbolism and all the things that make my books tick. And my students begin to know what they’re doing. When my day is finished, I find myself sitting at a desk trying to figure out when the actual work is going to begin.

Being a teacher is like being on the inside of a joke. The powers-that-be couldn’t possibly know what I do for my paycheck. Of course they don’t; if they knew how much fun I was having they probably wouldn’t let me do it anymore. I don’t mean to suggest that being a teacher is not without its problems. Anyone who has ever done it or tried to do it before will tell you that it’s tough. The grading and the grade-grubbing and the constant reminders that our work will never be done are, at times, maddening. Then payday roles around, and for one brief moment we all feel like the joke’s on us.

But at the end of the day it is my job, it is my occupation, to go into a classroom and discuss “Jabberwocky.” It is my job to watch my students develop confidence in themselves, my job to watch them come to appreciate and love the very same books that have meant so much to me, my job to help them find their own voice and figure out what to say and how to write with it. And while no job is without its problems, it’s not a bad way to earn a living.

Something Fun to Get Back In

The English language is fraught with its fair share of well-intentioned rules. In our attempts to make ourselves indisputably clear, we have created for this language a tangled, mangled web of instructions upon which even the most strict grammarians cannot agree. We have created substitutions and short cuts that, when properly used, create a mellifluous effect. But more often than not these words are improperly used, placed in awkward places within our speech and causing more confusion than they remedy.

If overworked people become unproductive if they are not provided breaks, can the same be said of our parts of speech? If we gave them a break, would they become more effective tools of communication for us? And to that end, what would, say, our pronouns do if we left them unattended? What would they look like if we refrained from imposing our grammatical laws on them and allowed them to let their hair down? What would they do with a night off?


He would sit on the couch waiting for her to finish “getting ready.” She would furiously text and tweet her friends while trying to decide which dress to wear, even though She knows He’s waiting.

They would meet up with Them at the corner bar. She would hope He wouldn’t embarrass her with his inane attempts at humor. He would hope She would refrain from dancing.

Who knows with Whom They would join before the night is finished. But they agree: the more the merrier.

I is by far the most popular with Everyone, and They wouldn’t be able to wait for Me to get There.

While it seems there’s potential for a fabulous night to be had by All, the pressing question remains:

What would You do with a night off and no limitations?